by Tom Campbell. Events in state government this past week have shown the tensions between legislative houses, the governor and groups within our state are hotter than the 90 degree temperatures. When that happens the best course is often to call time-out and that is exactly what House Speaker Thom Tillis has done.
Negotiations over the tax and budget package due to go into effect Monday have broken down. We hear there has been progress made over certain parts of the tax “reforms” being discussed, but still wide disparities over certain issues. The Senate’s announced plan not to consider any House originated legislation can be called petulance, even blackmail, but let’s not be naïve enough to think that the House hasn’t also created some of the problem.
There has always been and remains today a certain amount of tension between the Governor, the House and the Senate. Those who first formed this state thought it a good thing, an assurance of checks and balances. And while some thought that when we had the same party once again ruling it would be a kumbaya love feast, they forget the long history of tensions when Democrats controlled all three.
There are those critical of the role Governor McCrory is playing in these tax negotiations, specifically the role budget director Art Pope has assumed. They are wrong, because after our lawmakers have passed the budget and adjourned it is the Governor who is left to administer whatever budget they pass. Art Pope has been around state government long enough to understand the consequences if the tax package fails to generate the revenues sufficent to keep government operating McCrory will be the one required to make needed adjustments to balance the budget, as he is constitutionally charged to do.
But these tensions feel a bit more intense than some in past sessions, perhaps because this legislature has gone far beyond making course corrections and seems to be an about face for much of state governmen.
So while our leaders take a break, cool down and consider where things stand, now might be a good time to reflect on what has happened since January. Ask any captain of an aircraft carrier how to go about changing course and you will discover you can completely reverse course, but to do so you must make small course corrections over a period of time. Something to think about over the July 4th break.